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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Every weekday, The Local brings you an English-language summary of the news you need to know in Austria.

A woman reads notes supporting Ukraine during the war with Russia at Saint Stephen's cathedral in Vienna
People have been posting notes supporting Ukraine during the war with Russia at Saint Stephen's cathedral in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The number of Covid-19 cases should halve in a week

Covid-19 infections are now noticeably falling in Austria, and the Covid-19 forecast consortium believes the number will almost halve by next week. The number of infected people treated in hospitals should also decrease.

According to the forecast, the seven-day incidence should drop from its current figure of 1,260 to 740 by Wednesday next week, though a fluctuation is possible within a range of 590 to 980. 

The positive rates have not increased in any state, meaning that reducing testing is not a factor in the falling numbers. Testing is also decreasing, last week around 810,000 tests were carried out on Wednesday, whereas one week later, around 361,000 tests were made.  

READ MORE: How tourists, visitors and residents can get free Covid tests

Austria’s President meets Irish President at the Vienna Hofburg

Austria’s Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen met the Irish President Michael D. Higgins at Vienna’s Hofburg. Following the meeting, Van der Bellen said the war crimes in Ukraine could “not be tolerated”, and said Austria would not “back down” until the bloodshed is over.

Van der Bellen conceded that Austria has so far been against possible EU import embargo for Russian gas, but said there were different levels of dependency on Russian gas among EU countries and it was necessary not just for households but for industry. 

Higgins and Austria’s Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) also discussed the role of neutral countries such as Ireland and Austria against the background of the Ukraine war.

“Our joint, European response to this proves that we are taking united action against aggressors and that, even as neutral countries, we do not shy away from repelling the Russian attack with all available political means and with tightened sanctions,” said Kogler.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: The history behind Austria’s neutrality

Chance to recycle FFP2 masks

A company which makes Austria’s mandatory FFP2 masks in Vorarlberg has now started a new recycling system. This will give people the option to dispose of masks so they can be reused for oil absorbing textiles or as a cushion filler. 

Grabher-Group GmbH has already installed its first recycling boxes in Lustenau, broadcaster ORF reports. 

Around 1.2 million people in Austria are seriously overweight

Around 16.6 of Austria’s population are severely overweight according to research carried out by the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS). Half the population is either overweight or obese – around 2.5 million people. 

Austria’s government drivers keep crashing cars

Austria’s press has been intrigued this week by an anonymous letter claiming two bodyguards of Austria’s Chancellor had crashed a car while drunk, in addition to allegations that the bodyguards carried out childcare duties, personal errands and enjoyed drinking with the chancellor’s family.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer was so infuriated by the report and the opposition SPÖ subsequent parliamentary questions that he called a press conference and said “a red line in the political debate” had been crossed,” in “in which the untruth is alleged and the safety of my family is massively endangered”, broadcaster ORF reports.

Now the Krone newspaper has found out the driver of Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens) also crashed his car in a parking lot in March.

In this case, the driver had not been drinking. 

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

First monkeypox case found in Austria, Van der Bellen to run again, millions of Russian assets frozen, and more news on Monday

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

First case of monkeypox in Vienna

The first case of monkeypox has reached Vienna. A 35-year-old man is being treated in an isolation ward in a clinic in the Favoriten district after developing typical symptoms of the disease: a slight fever and pustules. Contact tracing is already underway, broadcaster ORF reports. Experts are unsure why the disease, which is normally only occurs in Africa, is spreading throughout Europe.

READ MORE: Monkeypox in Austria: What causes it and is it serious?

Alexander Van der Bellen to run for President again 

Austria’s President Van der Bellen has announced on Twitter that he will stand once again for the President of Austria. This was expected last week, when a TikTok video was released showing footage of the President which played The Clash song, “Should I stay or should I go?”.

The Greens, liberal NEOS and left wing SPÖ parties have all welcomed the decision, but the far right FPÖ party has announced it plans to put up a rival candidate, broadcaster ORF reports. The FPÖ’s leader, Herbert Kickl, criticised Van der Bellen for his support of the Covid policy in Austria and for “weakening Austria’s neutrality”, the broadcaster reports.

EXPLAINED: How does Austria’s presidential election work?

Russian assets worth millions of euros frozen in Austria

Around 254 million euros in Russian assets have been frozen in a total of 97 accounts in Austria as part of  EU sanctions, the Federal Chancellery announced on Sunday. Broadcaster ORF reports this is twice as much as Germany has managed. A task force led by the Directorate for State Security and Intelligence (DSN) in the Ministry of the Interior is responsible for investigating the assets. The investigators also managed to locate five land register entries that were supposed to have served to conceal assets.

Villa in Attersee occupied by squatters

Anarchist squatters gained access to a villa believed to be owned by a Russian oligarch villa in Burgau am Attersee in the municipality of St. Gilgen on Saturday The squatters demanded sanctions from the Russian owner Igor Shuvalov, who , according to media reports, is said to have vacated the villa in March. The squatters have since left the building.

Austria’s former foreign minister could face sanctions soon

UPDATE: Austrian ex-minister who danced with Putin quits Russian oil company Rosneft

On Monday morning, the EU Commission announced Austria’s former foreign minister Karin Kneissl could face EU sanctions for failing to resign from her job with Russian oil giant Rosnef.

Later on Monday, Kneissl announced her resignation – although it is unclear what impact this will have on the sanctions process. 

Austrian media reports the rule includes an annual salary of 515,000 euros. The EU Commission could include her on the sanctions list, which could soon mean her assets are frozen and her bank accounts are blocked. 

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has left his position with the firm after sanctions were threatened. 

Note: this story was updated on Monday afternoon after Kneissl quit her board position at Russian oil giant Rosneft.

Vienna’s Uno City promised 30 million euro refurb

Vienna’s UNO City, which is home to the city’s international organisations and its 5,000 workers, has been promised a 30 million euro refurb by the Republic of Austria, which owns the high rise buildings. The  office towers in the Donaustadt are more than 40 years old and urgently need renovation. The total costs could end up being ten times higher than the 30 million euros promised so far. for the first phase. Broadcaster ORF reports the buildings no longer comply with building and fire regulations. 

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